April 16, 2007

Sound & Vision… with PhoeniX PhiL

Filed under: music, film, editorial, authors, PhoeniX Phil, Topics — pxpl @ 12:14 pm

The internet is a bit of a mixed blessing really. Admitedly it offers up a world of information and archive material with just a few clicks however I feel it robs popular culture of some of the magic and the mystery that powers all great music, movies etc. For example look at movies… these days spoilers and tit bits flood onto the net at a daily rate.

This is especially true with franchises, most fanboys go the cinema not to see how the story turns out but to see which one of the leaked scripts they read six months ago was the correct one. I remember the gorgeous thrill that was the secrecy behind Gremlins when it fist came out.

The trailers and posters for Gremlins didnt show a lot of the creatures themselves… a quick shot of Gizmo’s paw, a shadowy silhouette of Spike running through an alley. Anticipation was high as Spielberg was involved and everyone was relating it to E.T. I remember my Mum excitedly saying that a breakfast TV host had an exclusive Gremlin toy in her hand. Due to a secrecy contract it was covered up by her hands with just the ears sticking out (or as my mum in correctly reported at the time “it looked like two butterfly wings”).

Why do i bring this up now, well apparentally a new trailer for Spiderman 3 got shown at a comicbook convention that showed not only the speedy shot of Venom coming at the screen fangs first (which has being doing the net rounds for months and was much feared to be the very final shot of the film) ….but also of Spidey getting pulled through the ceilng by Venom’s clawed hands.

Which means that it is now official… Spidey vs Venom at the end of the movie. Oh yes! The secrecy behind what Venom looks like and how big a role he actually has in this film has made being a fanboy extremely exciting. Apparentally four very different endings have been shot so not even the cast know how it ends. extremely exciting. Yes.. i know i’m a geek… but i’ll be the most excited geek in the world on may the 4th. oh yes.

With regrads to other films I watched this month, I saw the whole of the Outkast film “Idlewild” which comes close to be really good but doesnt quite make the grade.

It’s no “Graffiti Bridge” / “Sgt Pepper: The Movie” nightmare but it’s certainly no “8 mile”. I think the problem is that essentially it tries to cram in two storys at the same time… Andre 3000’s bullied by his father, shy musician in love tale with (the more entertaining in my opinion) Big Boi’s gangster pimp story. The first hour or so this works really well as story’s cross over ect. but then towards the end it’s like a mad dash to tie everything up and it left me a bit unsatisfied…

..another problem with it is some of the song choices… bizarely lots of the songs from it arent actually from the 1930’s sounding “idlewild” soundtrack but are album tracks from “Speakerboxx / the Love Below” and lyrically or musically they dont tie into the story at all. Strange.

In closing it looks good and the lads dont embaress themselves with the acting or anything but the last 20 minutes lets it down. Definetely worth a watch… but only on someone elses clock.

“But what about the sound?” I hear you cry, “But what about this month’s music?”… well speaking of a different kind of Idlewild, I got their new album “Make Another World”. Apparentally a return to form, I found it constistantly “O.K”. No more. No less. Regretably, none of the songs have really wedged a place in my heart yet though and i fear this album (like The Dears’ “Gang Of Losers”) will just fade to the back of my cd collection.

I suppose the big indie album of the month was Arcade Fire’s “Neon Bible”. It seems that people are as quick to jump on the backlash of this album as they were to jump on the bandwagon for the previous album “Funeral”. Which i find odd because as an album.. in it’s whole (remember that kids? …lets judge albums as a whole)… I PREFER “Neon Bible” to “Funeral” “… but then again i’ve never seen the Arcade Fores as anything more than “Mercury Rev” + “Men Without Hats” + “Stars In Your eyes Bjork impersonator” = very good band.

A bit of quiet month for music but seeing as it’s now spring and “indie season” is up and running expect the wax to be flooding out… starting with PopArt alumni Lucky Soul’s debut album coming out on April 16th.

April 2, 2007

Tales Of Middle Earth… By Blue Peter (who wrote this drunk)

Filed under: music, editorial, authors, Topics, Blue Peter — bluepeter @ 2:42 pm

Although it lays me open to ridicule, I am a great believer that if Worcester were a suburb of London rather than a small city 25 miles south of Birmingham, then the music industry would right now be aghast at the quality of bands the city both produces and attracts to play. Worcester is metaphorically on fire and, to prove my point, here is a mere snapshot of just three consecutive days in February:
WEDNESDAY – Untitled Musical Project, one of the most exciting bands ever to have existed, are in town to delight all at the new Bosa Nova venue with their witty scattergun punk stabs. In support are the local scene’s brightest new rock’n’roll stars Zebedy Rays, who play with so much passion and energy they are greeted by their fans like the Second Coming these days, which is odd because on –
THURSDAY – They play their second gig of the week at The Marr’s Bar in support of New York based sex-rocker Lord Bishop Rocks. The local lads are greeted with as much excitement as when their fans last saw them only 24 hours earlier. As an entire bottle of Jack Daniels is shared out amongst bands and the crowd alike, our thoughts turn to the fact that we have got to do this all over again on:
FRIDAY – Abdoujaparov, the new band of Les ‘Fruitbat’ Carter (ex-Carter USM), are in town and they’ve brought the entire London Mafia with them. Pop-Art’s own Dom is on bass guitar duties and, in support, are the capital’s Subliminal Girls, musical magpies of the highest and most wonderful order. Offering local support is a young group called The Hoax who effortlessly mix the vocal slurrings of The Fall with upbeat pop aesthetics to make them serious contenders.
The night, and the week, however belong to Abdoujaparov. The moment the Abdoujaparov Theme kicks in, Fruitbat is forced to watch in amazement as his own audience invade the stage, kick him off and slaughter the song. If only every gig ended with this much fun, energy and excitement, we could harness its power to run our local Sauce Factory.
Untitled Musical Project – http://www.myspace.com/untitledmusicalproject
Zebedy Rays – http://www.myspace.com/zebedyrays
Abdoujaparov – http://www.myspace.com/idou2
Subliminal Girls – http://www.myspace.com/subliminalgirls
The Hoax – http://www.myspace.com/thisisnotahoax

Blue Peter is in And What Will Be Left Of Them? and Girls On Film

Dom interviews… Mr. Solo.

Filed under: interviews — scoobydom @ 2:31 pm

Are you in yet?
I am your vessel - are you in yet? A very poor joke on my part about men with small members as I seem to recall. but It transcended its origins in the gutter to become a personal mantra. meaningless becomes meaningfull. To be honest.

Tell us what you’re doing right now.
I am rehersing every sunday as a roman centurian (are there non roman centurians?) in dennis potter’s son of man - a passion play. I get to say things like “superstitious fools - go home” which is good training for dealing with hecklers and somehow fits my view of myself as an accidental rationalist. Actually its been a great experience not unlike making up stories when you’re a kid and acting them out. Strange childhood moi? Also I’m playing gigs for anyone who asks. i was particularly pleased to receive a hat shaped like the tatlin tower as payment for a recent performance for Fiona graham, a soon to be world reknowned miliner. When everyone is sporting tatlin tower hats I can say - that was my idea that.

These days, you’re mainly doing the Mr Solo thing. It’s a really good album, by the way. Did you get fed up of working with other people?
No not really and with the first solo album I worked closely with the Pope. I was interested in applying conviction to my own ideas and seeing where it leads. I still don’t think I have managed this by the way. strangely working by myself was a way of removing my own ego from the equation. if we really are biological robots what does all this stuff that bubbles up to the surface mean? personally I think all creative people are descended from neanderthals who became extinct when they refused to develop specialist skills like humans who had dicovered free trade. So I don’t subscribe to the idea that “Hell is other people”. Oh and thanks for the compliment mate.

Are the solo gigs more fun than playing with a band?
they are certainly different. when I am in the band i do marvel at the prowess of my cohorts. Playing Solo gives me an opportunity to explore what it is to perform - alone up there on the stage. To really be in the moment and I suppose it feels a bit like realising you are in a dream and having a good wander around and seeing what happens if you do certain things instead of just repeating tasks fused into the cerebelum. or when time freezes in a film and you can wander round proding people and creeping into their heads to discover their inner most thoughts. Sort of like that.

Many people I know wish they had a malevolent nemesis of some kind. You actually have one. Can you tell us about your evil doppelgänger?
Well its actually a pretty poor stab at non humourous satire dreamed up by a couple of hoxton boys with a lot of time on their hands and a sack of chips on their shoulders. But i have breathed life into their premordial bullying drivel by calling it my evil twin due to my own fascination with The golem and The student from prague. I see him as an somnambulistic manifestation of my self loathing - the moment on the school bus when you catch a whiff of your school uniform and are confronted with the terrifying reality that you are rotting. Then you get over it - we are all going to die. if mr Solo is already Satan chained to the burning lake what does that make his malevolent nemesis?

(Mr Solo emailed me shortly afterwards to add this: ) further to my malevolent nemesis I can’t help thinking that were their studio walls riddled with bullet holes and spattered with the blood of its executed previous occupants they might feel less like whinging about how fame has passed them by in favour of greedy talentless charlatans like mr solo. oh and perhaps they could do some baby sitting for some children of crack addicts left to rumage through the remnants of their parents fried chicken they may feel less like making their oh so funny collages of osama binladen and think twice before asking me (via another satirical character) what’s the quickest I’ve sodomised a man against his will? Something tells me they had a very expensive education and instead of using it they ‘rip the piss’ and want a medal for it. Next question?

Will you ever see the Star Trek character Mr Sulu in an objective light again?
I never did as he is a lovely fictional creation designed to act as a fulcrum between the metaphysical musings of Captain James T. Kirk and rationalisations of Dr. Spock.

Tell us something we don’t know about David Devant.
He was a telephone operator on the line between london and brighton before becoming a professional magicien and eventual first president of the Magic Circle.

Tell us something we don’t know about his spirit wife.
It was a trick performed by two differenrt ladies with mr devant. i’m sorry but their names escape me. she’s the kind of woman who’s persued by every male.

Have you ever been to see DD’s old house in Hampstead? If so, did a hilarious and/or spooky story ensue?
yes i went there and as i arrived the door creaked open and a gnarled boney hand beckoned me in. When i got inside there was no body there only an orange on a small card table with a ribbon petruding fro it trailing out along the floor. this coincidentally is the only magic trick I have performed live and unbeknownst to me was a piece of conjouring made popular by David Devant.

Just what happened to the Spectral Roadies?
ice man now makes videos for Robbie Williams (true) and Cocky Young un is a soon to be recognised dadaist genius (also true)

And what happened to all those props?
They are dispersed through time and space after we discovered a portal in the storage space in backstreet rehersal studios in the now fashionable district of Holloway.

Devant guitarist Foz? left the band for a bit, then he came back. Do you know where he went? (My theory is that he went to hang out with other guitarist-bears in the woods.)
he went on a mission to distribute our props to needy bands in parallel universes. Foz? also immersed himself in spontaneous acts of creative euphoria by the seaside and formed a company called kindness!

David Devant and his Spirit Wife were the house-band on the mid-90s sitcom Asylum. Despite the show involving such brit-com luminaries as Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright, Julian Barratt and Norman Lovett, it wasn’t very funny. Perhaps you can shed some “light on the surface”?
julian barratt was very funny in Asylum or atleast very engaging. The whole program was filmed in an abandoned childrens home/asylum in the middle of nowhere and we all had to stay there to film it which was tres spooky and disturbing. It was as if those “naughty” problem kids were still there. In truth it was a very sad place full of the echoes of neglect, perhaps this rubbed off on the performers. I do recall thinking Simon Pegg’s character had a tough time trying to find some laughs as the pizza delivery boy who got detained in the asylum after delivering the vegetarian Hot. On the whole though its a very atmospheric cult program for me atleast in the back of my mind.

At one point you were making music with Jyoti Mishra (aka Whitetown) under the Carfax banner. Tell us about how it happened. And then tell us what happened!
jyoti was a great friend and fan of devant who recognised the transcendental nature of the shows. I went to stay in his rock mansion and we recorded a couple of songs which I wrote on the train up to see him. This idea of creativity on demand is now something I hold dear but at the time it was all new to me and didn’t feel atall natural missus. I would certainly like to repeat the process if he’s up for it.Jyoti refused to let me use any flowery musical ideas or lyrics - poetry!!? We seemed to take the first riff and apply conviction to it which is a powerful tool - a blackendeckker hammer drill production technique.

Let’s get back to the here and now. Everyone at PopArt HQ was very impressed with your drawing skills at our birthday game of Win, Lose Or Draw. Do you work much in that sort of media?
i’ve been round the houses and redicovered good old colours and canvas. I arrived there by making a drawing every morining at half six for a year. one in twenty of these seemed to want to be a painting so that is what I’m up to.

Speaking of art, Richie from Abdou was telling me that you, Art Brut and Abdou all had some big jam at the Tate last year. So how did that come about? And why did no one invite me?
sorry you didn’t get invited. Tis a strange tale of serendipitous energies. You see DD&HSW had a manager caled major talent and he called me to say he had met a band called art brut the previous evening and that they loved (yes really) DD&HSW and would we play a gig with them. Now on the same evening he was meeting them I was sat in my car long after i had arrived home listening to a session by Art Brut thinking “this song is about us” (it was look at us we formed a band) - this is something i had never felt whilst listening to popular music and felt truely inspired. Now it just so happens that the gig was at the tate britain about which we had penned a song called Pimlico with the refrain “got a lovely gallery”. So to cut a short story down even further we formed a band and performed said song at the tate britain. Brilliant!

Can you tell us about any new or good up-and-coming bands or artists or film-makers or people like that who we might not have heard of?
matt hulse is the master mind behind THe Hippies - check out “rabies (its a killer)” on their myspace page. And he is also a brilliant film maker. I recently went to a retrospective of his films and realised that whilst he had been projecting the magic lantern for DD&HSW he was quietly getting on with being a genius director.

Next month, I’m hoping to interview Les Carter aka Fruitbat. What shall I ask him?
No questions just give him a hug from me and tell him I love him and his music.

What’s next for you?
Well more paintings (anychance of a colaboration popart?) and beginning a new album of mr Solo. i’m looking forward to performing at Pop art and a new celebraty panel game - hopefully one in which I can display my trout mask replica doodling abilities. oh and my single kiss it better is out in may on Oustanding Records. But i suppose you’ll be putting that at the end of this article in a truely professional stylee. thanks its been a pleasure talking to you x

Mr. Solo peforms at BritPopArt @ Bloomsbury Bowling Lanes on Easter Sunday. Kiss it Better is out in May on Outstanding Records.

Tamla Tim’s Soul Survivor

Filed under: music, editorial, Tamla Tim — tamlatim @ 12:24 pm
Marvin Gaye, ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’, Tamla, 1968

So this is the third edition of Soul Survivor and I haven’t written about a Tamla Motown record yet. A severe oversight for a man who dares call himself Tamla Tim. So to make up for that it’s a huge Motown classic this month.

Marvin Gaye’s heart wrenching version is one of the best known and most loved Motown songs ever. The haunting arrangement drips despair and Gaye’s raw vocal – slightly higher than is comfortable for him, injects the hurt into every syllable. I imagine we’ve all been there; when you’re the last to know that the special girl or boy in your life isn’t all you thought, when someone else lets something slip and you have to deal with getting binned, via someone you hardly know, in a crowded pub. But somehow this song carries it all for you and makes you feel that someone understands.

Amazingly it very nearly didn’t see the light of day. The song was written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong and was recorded first by Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, then by The Isley Brothers and then by Marvin Gaye. Motown held ‘Quality Control’ meetings every Friday to decide which new recordings from Hitsville USA made the grade as singles. On each occasion it was decided that none of these versions cut it. Whether that tells of the immense quality of songs coming out of Motown or represents a huge error of judgement is debatable.

The first version of the song to be released was by Gladys Knight & The Pips; a fine, up-beat, gospel tinged version in the mould of ‘Respect’. Even then Motown seemed to have little faith in the song and promotion of it was severely limited. It reached number 1 regardless, becoming Motown’s biggest hit up to that point.

Whitfield however was still in love with the Marvin Gaye version and tried to convince Berry Gordy to agree to a single release of it. Still it was refused; the logic being that his version wouldn’t be a hit following on the heels of the Gladys Knight version. It was sneaked on to Gaye’s album ‘In The Groove’ at the last minute and, whilst the official single stalled at number 34 in the chart, ‘…Grapevine’ was being played by DJs straight off the album and became the most requested track. When it was finally released as a single it outsold the Gladys Knight’s version and set up camp at number 1 for seven weeks.

Since then it’s become part of the musical furniture, but has lost none of its pathos and redemptive power and will be a comfort to over-sensitive soul boys like me for as long as people are having their hearts broken.

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